Honoring Newington Volunteer: Linda Bilodeau
Volunteer role: Dog walker and foster mom
Length of service: 8.5 years
I started volunteering because…after I adopted Andy, our cocker spaniel from Arkansas, who was a puppy mill surrender, I became interested in animal welfare, animal behavior and different breeds. I wanted to get involved in the effort to help shelter animals.
My favorite part of volunteering is…being part of the effort to help animals. I like getting to meet new dogs and to know them as individuals, and watching them progress.
My most memorable volunteer experience was…well, two stand out. One was fostering Mikey, who we adopted, and seeing him go from sick to healthy and happy. The other was being present when Angel gave birth to her kittens.
I love animals because…I like taking care of them, and keeping them healthy and happy. They are good companions, and it is fascinating to observe their behavior. I’ve been caring for animals since I was two and feeding stray cats.
I know I am making a difference when…they enjoy a walk with their tails wagging, or they learn to trust. When a shy dog is responsive, that’s a bonus.
The little things I do to help make a pets’ stay at CHS better include…talking to them. I probably sound nutty, but I think they like to be acknowledged with talk and lots of praise. I try to figure out who they are and give them what they need.
My advice for new volunteers is…to learn as much as you can about the animals you meet. The more you know about animal behavior, for example, the more effective you will be. The staff is a great source of information, and I have learned a lot from them.
My favorite things to do outside of CHS include…seeing my grandkids, walking my dogs, doing artwork, and reading about dogs, as well as reading biographies and mystery novels.
My hidden talent is…I was an art major in college. I love to draw, paint in oils, and do calligraphy, as well as knit.
I think volunteerism is important because…you have the opportunity to make a small difference in whatever capacity you choose. Working with animals is its own reward because you see them flourish and appreciate your efforts.